Turns out being a privileged white woman critiquing or defending a brand who’s demographic is other privileged white women is a lose lose.
Or perhaps, it’s exactly someone like me calling out someone else like me that needs to be happening more.
Yesterday, we published a post with all my thoughts and feelings on Goop and Gwyneth Paltrow, especially in light of my recent attendance of the “In Goop Health” wellness summit. Early on in the day, I decided to pull back the post, not because of the onslaught of negative comments, but more because it made me want to spend some more time and self-reflect on what I wrote. It wasn’t fully flushed out and I kinda knew it, but honestly was too slammed to work on it more. I’ve never unpublished a story but let me be clear, it was not me “letting the bullies win” more so than me wanting to make sure I was saying what I really wanted to say. So consider this a TAKE 2. I’m not changing what I originally wrote (besides a few little edits here and there that I would have made anyway had I spent a little more time on the draft prior to publishing), but I did want to address some of what you called me out on as well as add more thoughts about what prematurely publishing this post led me to realize about myself and my company. So, if you missed the post yesterday morning, keep reading for the whole thing. If you did read it, then feel free to scroll to the end and see what I have to add.
Alright, here’s the original post as it ran yesterday:
“No one is more controversial, polarizing even, amongst women (and many men) as Gwyneth Paltrow and her brand Goop. I know this post might inflame some (a lot) of you—even a mention of Goop in our Sunday links post gets some of you going—but over the course of several years, as a follower of the site and now, after attending this year’s “In Goop Health” health summit, I’ve gone through a bit of a “it’s fine, it’s problematic, it’s good” roller coaster in terms of my stance on it (the brand, not Gwyneth herself, keep reading).
Fair warning that this post is looooong. I have a lot to say here. And while I promise to get to my actual review (and criticisms) of the summit in case you guys are wondering what that THOUSAND DOLLAR ticket buys you, first, I need to take you on my GP + Goop journey to help you understand my thought process about it all.
First off, let’s talk about Gwyneth Paltrow. I’ve gotten into so many heated debates that have ended in arguments not because I feel so passionately about ol’ Gwynnie, but because I think that most of the dislike/distaste for her comes out of close-mindedness, judgement and jealousy, and that’s a trigger for me. I’ve found that my friends who can’t stand her or her brand haven’t ever even gone to Goop.com, certainly haven’t listened to the podcast, and instead, are just reacting to a persona that the media is trashing because of her privilege. Do I agree with everything she’s ever done or said? Of course not. But she’s also just a mom, businesswoman and writer trying to put forth some progressive ideas that aren’t for everyone though meant to be helpful and generally positive. Sure, she was born and raised wealthy and has aspired to turn her career as an actor into a lifestyle brand; people take issue with this, although they would probably never do this for a man.
To be honest I was on board with her from the start even though I couldn’t relate to her (at the time I wasn’t her demographic—when I started following her I was broke and even when I had a TV show, I couldn’t have afforded anything from her gift guide). But I thought she did what she did really well. She found a hole in the market and she filled it, beautifully (her cookbooks were good, her travel guides were beautiful). Did I make the recipes or go to those countries? No, but I thought she did a great job at speaking to her audience and I liked watching. She wasn’t putting garbage out there, but her product wasn’t for everyone. It was (maybe unintentionally) exclusive, and mostly for wealthy women which is inherently alienating. And when someone feels alienated it’s much easier to be angry or dismissive. So I understood where these negative feelings were coming from.
How I saw it though, was like this: if you don’t like her, you don’t have to buy her product or read her content. Goop isn’t for you so just move on. But I also know it’s not actually that simple or straight-forward.
My largest shift in opinion though, happened a few years ago when I found myself turned off by what I was seeing on the Goop site. The fear-based marketing that they were doing at the time had been bugging me for a while, and then one day, an article from Goop with a headline similar to “Are you poisoning your future baby with these toxins?” popped up into my Facebook feed.
I can’t find the article now so full disclosure that might be an exaggeration, but it was inflammatory and the definition of fear-based click bait. I think I was likely pregnant at the time and got pissed. Women are already riddled with guilt about what they are putting in their bodies while pregnant and breastfeeding, now I need to feel guilty about the things I might have put in my body (and thus the future fetus) even before I became pregnant?
It just went too far. I already despised fear-based marketing and was just so bummed that a female-founded company was turning it on us.
This might have been around the same time as vagina steaming. I think we all know that didn’t help her image.
But every now and then something would happen that made me remember she was a human going through human things, all while being judged under a microscope. People freaked out when she rebranded her divorce as “conscious uncoupling” (which she didn’t invent, it’s from the ’70s), I was like “HEY JERKS, SHE IS A MOM WHO IS GOING THROUGH WHAT MUST BE THE MOST PAINFUL THING IN THE WORLD and she wants to give it a positive spin for her kids and take the power away from DIVORCE.” Unfortunately, what it did was make anybody who had gotten a divorce and called it “conscious uncoupling” feel judged. (If you’re curious, listen to Dax Shepard’s podcast with her about it.)
“The general brand did start feeling like they were pressuring women to buy Moon Dust (tried it, gave me anxiety) and jade eggs.”
I kept following Gwyneth and would occasionally like some of the Goop content, but the general brand did start feeling like they were pressuring women to buy Moon Dust (tried it, gave me anxiety) and jade eggs.
To be fair, I consider myself a very open-minded and curious person and love hearing, listening and debating all new theories. When people started buying crystals, I laughed and said, “great, which ones should I get?” (turns out two experts told me the same thing—I shouldn’t carry rose quartz because I’m already too high energy and should be wearing more copper to help ground me). I honestly love this stuff because guess what guys? NOBODY REALLY KNOWS FOR ABSOLUTE CERTAIN.
Last year, my two best friends from Oregon came down to go to the Goop wellness summit, In Goop Health. Let me preface this by saying that these ladies are the most grounded, solid people I know. All of us were raised middle class, all of us have worked our asses off since college and are the dominant financial earners in our families. Do they like face cream and are curious about supplements that help detox the liver? Sure! But being that they are both in marketing, they more so admired the success of the brand and liked a lot of the wellness components and self-improvement aspects of the brand. Me, too.
If you haven’t already started screaming “BUT THE PSEUDOSCIENCE” at your device/computer, I’m getting to it. In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, the Goop has gotten some heat for promoting health and wellness techniques that some claim are pseudoscience, meaning anecdotal evidence at best and not actually founded in scientific method. Many people criticized that what they were promoting was dangerous, which was possibly true. Not everyone should be taking every supplement and certainly trendy diets can be harmful to your health. Plus, buying into anything that feels “science-y” and absolute without much—or any—backing should make your red flags go up.
That said, they’ve since shifted from this mostly, and as a follower, what I’ve noticed is that they rephrase things to be less factual and more “hey, here is a theory,” and they have employed far more scientists and functional doctors than they used to. If you are wondering what a functional doctor is, you aren’t alone. It’s a doctor with a western medical Ph.D. that focuses more on a holistic approach analyzing nutrition and lifestyle and genes in addition to bloodwork to find underlying causes of disease. It’s an absolute no brainer to me as I believe strongly that what you put in your body and your mental health effects and contributes to your physical success. After much analyzing, here is how I stand on this: I drank the alternative life Koolaid/kombucha in addition to my love of western medicine. My kids get vaccinated. We employ medicine when needed. While I previously thought that a lot of what Goop was spewing was pretentious, expensive pseudoscience—particularly when they were using that fear-based marketing I talked about—I’ve actually shifted.
It all has to do with a “spiritual journey” that I’ve been on the last year and a half to well, ha, find meaning and purpose in life (which beyond podcasts and self-help books has included trying new churches – not goop). It’s like my only hobby outside of decorating. I listen to podcast after podcast on divinity (I love the Liturgists), business, spirituality, parenting, and wellness. I buy and borrow so many self-improvement books, all to help me figure out how to live more consciously, feel more connected to everyone and everything on this earth (and above), and essentially have a more fulfilling life.
One podcast that I’ve grown to LOVE and listen to weekly (sometimes I marathon it while I’m cleaning the house) is, yes, The Goop Podcast and it’s really where the opinion shift happened for me (though keep reading for my criticisms, because I do have them). If you are on the side of “ugh, I hate Gwyneth and Goop,” please listen to a few episodes before you comment negatively below.
“Do I agree with everything Goop does? Nope, but how can I denigrate a nice woman, trying to do something new and different in media?”
Here’s why: generally, the guests are experts in their field—doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, motivational speakers—and they are pretty inspiring. Nobody is telling you to not vaccinate yourself or your kids; it’s more about how you can rewire your brain to create better habits or even heal physical ailments (TRUE), how eating less meat can lead to less cardiovascular problems, or very interesting theories on why auto-immune disorders have shot up in the last 30 years. I know what lectins are now, guys, and my gut is happier. I learn so much and it’s honestly made me strive to be a better person.
Moreover, when Gwyneth is on, you’ll hear how she actually is—a mom, a divorced wife, a newlywed, a business owner, a daughter of a beloved dad who passed, and most importantly, a human being who admits her flaws as much as we do and is just trying to figure it all out and be a good person. She’s refreshingly honest and vulnerable. Again, do I agree with everything Goop does? Nope, but how can I denigrate a nice woman, trying to do something new and different in media? Her brand has inadvertently made people feel bad and that’s their biggest problem.
OKAY, ON TO THE WELLNESS SUMMIT.
So my friends from Oregon (Robyn and Nicole) attended last year, I missed it, but they RAVED about it being this really inspiring and fun day so I, of course, wanted to join. They bought their tickets and flights and we had it all set, but when I went to buy my ticket, I was SHOCKED to find out that it was a $1,000. You read that right, although it seems unbelievable. ONE. THOUSAND. DOLLARS for a one day conference. Woah. Surely I could get a press pass. I knew “influencers” who went last year with 1/10th the following who got passes.
But nope. By the time I reached out they were out. In fact, they were out of tickets entirely and they pulled strings to even let me buy my ticket. So then, I had to make a choice and I figured if I could write it off through the business (by writing this article) I would go to A. not let my friends down and miss a VERY fun day, but B. What could possibly happen in 9 hours that would be worth $1,000??? It became more about marketing and brand research than a girls’ day really.
Held at Rolling Greens in downtown LA (which is a stunning space), the summit was an extremely well-produced event, beautifully decorated and flowed great. We got there at 8 am sharp since we weren’t going to miss a second of our $1,000 day and proceeded to spend an hour and a half exploring. We got our B-12 shots in our bottoms, we watched the tuning fork therapy (which I think can work because I believe a lot of theories about energy healing but a 5-minute session won’t do much and the line was always long). We did a guided meditation to “plant music”…that’s right, there is this guy that has an instrument that takes the energy of plants and transforms it into music. It was weird and silly but if you are game to experience it—you’d have to be in order to be there to begin with—then it’s fun. Goop’s Chief Content Officer Elisa Loehnen (who I love) chimed in to say that “that may or may not be the goopiest thing you do all day” and everyone laughed. They make fun of themselves, they are in on the joke. We ate and drank delicious food and bopped into a lot of fun workshops and tested new products. There were no real hiccups in the production; no Fyre Festival here.
At 9:30, the first session started with Gwyneth and Elizabeth Gilbert, who spoke about grief, fear and creativity in a way that left us almost in tears (and excited to buy her book). Most of the sessions were totally inspiring I took an entire notebook of notes. Lacy Phillips taught us her three easy steps to manifesting what you want in life (I’m currently manifesting a new office space). Most inspiring was Lynne Twist who wrote “The Soul of Money,” a powerful book about the history of money and how we’ve all shifted from citizens to consumers (with the irony being of course that there was a massive gift shop inside the conference). The session with medium Laura Day was so entertaining (I love her) and the final session with Busy Phillips, Olivia Wilde, Jessica Alba and Taraji P. Henson was actually amazing. I was there for the other experts, not the celebrities, but they were all very authentic, articulate and inspiring (FYI, all the speakers become podcasts soon after, so you can tune in to that for FREE).
We left with our 20-pound gift bag feeling utterly inspired and spent the next three days debriefing—how we felt it was as a marketing event for their brand as well as what changes we were going to make in our lives because of it. There was a lot to unpack from it.
Now for my criticism.
I believe a large part of wellness comes from helping others and this conference was certainly SELF-help. Now, nothing is innately wrong with that, but there is something so confronting about being in a room with 600 HIGHLY privileged mostly white women, and there not being one word about helping others (except Lynne Twist). No percentage of the $1,000 ticket sales went towards a cause, and none of the sessions were focused on helping anything but yourself. What I love so much about the podcast is that they do dive into a lot of that, and it was missing from the conference. You have 600 either rich or powerful (press) in the room and boy did it feel like such a missed opportunity to not create a conversation or dialogue about what we can do both macro and micro to change the world for the better. So while we left feeling inspired, we also left feeling a little gross and very guilty.
Give me the opportunity to give back and use my privilege to contribute. Have a speaker that helps us understand how to best help our community and give back and frankly remind these women that it’s the responsibility of the elite to serve others. It just is. But again, that’s not the Goop brand or ethos, which I suppose is my biggest issue. I don’t really know what they value, I don’t understand their “why” beyond creating interesting conversations and recommending the newest organic self-tanner, which is not a bad thing. Hell, I struggle with my “WHY” EVERY. SINGLE. DAY, so I get that it’s not that easy, especially when trying to run a business. They are a self-proclaimed “Modern Lifestyle Brand” and I suppose I just wish it were bigger, more empowering and more responsible, with all their products being sustainable and green.
But listen, this is a “wellness” summit and frankly can’t do everything, nor should it. It was a very clear message, one of self-improvement. I suppose I just want to go to a different conference, one that was less about SELF-improvement and more about improving our communities, what we can do to promote change, etc.
All in all, it was GREAT for what it set out to do, I think I just wanted it to be less about how can I be a better me and more about the earth, community, etc. Will I go again? I’m torn. I mean if I get a press pass, then of course. If my best friends fly down again for girls weekend it will be very hard to stay home, but if they don’t then no I wouldn’t spend $1,000 again.”
That was the original post. In just a few hours, we had over 100 comments and they were coming fast—at Goop, Gwyneth and me. I typically try to have a flushed out diplomatic stance on hot-button topics but I just didn’t have the time to focus and just threw up the post. Not only are there some small tonality regrets in what I said, but more importantly there was a lot that I didn’t say.
I stand by what I wrote, but here is what I’d like to add.
- Being one of 600 highly privileged mostly white women in the conference was confronting. I didn’t feel uncomfortable, but throughout the day I felt more and more ashamed and guilty. I realize that I’m one of the “whitest” people I know–not just my skin color, but habits, hobbies, how I talk, what I wear, etc. I’m not necessarily ashamed of this (nor do I want to change who I am) but sometimes embodying a stereotype so perfectly can be embarrassing when confronted by a group who also embody this. I’ve been at blogger events where the racial demographic was the same, but the level of affluence was totally different, so why the change? If you’ve followed along for a while, you might know that growing up, we were the not-rich kids living in a very wealthy community in high school so I’m kinda scarred from that and I’m terrified of raising the kids I went to high school with. I have a bias against the wealthy, despite NOW being one of them. This is not GOOP’s fault. No. I was internalizing my own fear and knew that I was supporting a company that was embracing their wealth and then my fear kicked in that now that I was one of them.
- I became self-righteous. “HOW DARE THEY NOT GIVE US AN OPPORTUNITY TO GIVE BACK?” I don’t disagree with my previous statement but I wonder if it was out of my own fear of becoming part of a culture that I have always resisted and less about the logistics and ethos of the conference. I felt guilty for being there so I kept saying “why not at least give 5% to some cause?” But that would be just for show, a token to satisfy someone like me. Do I think they should start creating that conversation within their business? YES, but who am I to ask them to provide me with an easy app or donation box to alleviate my own guilt when I have the power (we all do) to go out and find my own cause and help where I can?
- What do I do to help and give back and is it enough? WHO AM I TO CALL OUT GOOP? I try, I do but beyond the Feelgood Flash makeovers, and shelter/Miry’s List stuff, I’m not waking up every day thinking about how I can help my community. A business is not a charity, I get that, but I actually don’t think that a business’ level of success is actually something to value. I listened to a recent podcast (Intelligence Squared) about how corporate “philanthropy” is actually just a mask that distracts from what problems they are creating, so society goes easy on them and applauds them when they try to solve others. Furthermore, we don’t know what Goop and GP herself give or don’t to help others. It’s so self-righteous for me to be like “give me a platform to give back” without even researching whether they do.
So that’s where I’m at. I don’t wish I could go back in time, because I learned a ton from the comments. I agree with what I said, but with more self-reflection, I realize that A. we at EHD could be doing more, and B. publishing a post that isn’t well thought out is good for no one.
Hi, Sara here from Germany. I recommend the Goop podcast to my friends and colleagues all the time.. And what do they say: You have to help yourself so to be able to help others (think oxygen masks in a plane). And it’s true: If you are anxious, stressed and not connected to your inner self than chances are you won’t be really able to help others. Either not even see they need help or not have the energy to help. I’ve also been on a self-finding journey these last two years and I’m convinced it has made me a calmer and happier person. And I’m able to be a better mother and friend. I think if you are not really connected to the world because you are just caught up in yourself (by being anxious and stressed) you cannot make the world a better place. So no bad conscience about the wish to become your true self!
Hi Sara, I 100% agree with you reminding us about help yourself first with oxygen masks. I believe most of us want to help other people as much as possible, yet we can’t do that to our greatest capacity if we aren’t functioning at our best.
I love the goop brand and very grateful we have a Gwyneth Paltrow in our generation !
Thanks Emily for sharing your thoughts.
I think Gwyneth Paltrow seems…earnest? Nice enough? And good for her, I guess, for building such a successful business or brand or whatever, and if people want to spend a lot of money on the clothes or makeup or whatever, then that’s certainly fine. But, yeah, the “supplements” and “detoxing” and crystals are just snake oil. When you write, “NOBODY REALLY KNOWS,” that’s just not true. We know. You don’t need to detox; that’s what your liver does. Crystals are just placeboes. I don’t think this is negativity; it’s just science.
It might be more interesting to wonder why so many privileged white women are drawn to Goop’s “remedies”: why, given their many advantages in the world, do they still feel like they need fixing? I think the whole obsession with “self-care” is fascinating: is it wildly self indulgent? Or women’s way of acknowledging that the larger culture constantly makes them feel like they aren’t good enough?
I mostly agree with you. However: I have a good friend who suffered from severe eczema for years. “Science” — ie, the medical profession — loaded her up with drugs, including steroids. Year after year, her eczema got worse and required stronger and stronger drugs. Finally out of sheer desperation, she decided to detox. She went on a fast for 2 weeks. Nothing but water. And after that began gradually adding organic unprocessed foods back to her diet, one by one. That was 10 years ago and she hasn’t suffered from eczema since. She cured herself. The “science” — ie, the steroids and other drugs doctors were pumping into her system — were making her worse.
So science clearly doesn’t have all the answers either. And the huge pharmaceutical industry is perfectly happy to load you up with drugs, based on “science,” so long as you’re willing to part with your money. I trust science a lot more than Goop! But we should have a degree of skepticism about science, too.
This sounds less like a problem with “science” and more of a critique on capitalism and our failing health care system.
Preach! Sums it all up nicely with one caveat, the rising economic inequality of the past 50 years is destroying society and democracy.
Louann, please don’t equate “science” with a particular doctor or pharmaceutical. “Science” is more far-reaching and pure (imho) than that. Science describes; it does not proscribe. I’m glad your friend’s eczema cleared up, but her method could also be described in scientific terms.
Susie Q: You act like “science” is this completely separate thing from the pharmaceutical industry and various other medical industries. But it’s not. “Science” has been funded for decades by those same industries. Their lobbyists determine what medicines get pushed on the public via the government and via the medical profession. It’s all intertwined. The opioid epidemic is the direct result of science, business, and government combining to ill effect.
Look, like I said, I trust science a whole more than I trust these silly self-help web sites. But it’s more than little naive to think science is impartial and pure, when it’s often NOT and there are loads of examples of that throughout U.S. history.
We would do well to approach this with an eye toward the good science can do as well as the biases often inherent in it.
It seems to me that you and I have different definitions of the word “science.” What I am calling “science” is, according to the dictionary, “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”
Science existed before America, big pharma, lobbyists, and so on. The issues you describe indeed exist, but as a language teacher, I insist on following the standard definition of a word.
The flip side is, my friend’s 2 year old son developed terrible excema and they took him to a Naturopathic Doctor who prescribed them all kind of supplements and an escalating extreme elimination diet. They did this for about 6 weeks but his skin kept getting worse. The naturopath sent them for allegery tests and everything. Finally, she took him to their family doctor about it. Turns out he had a bacterial skin infection had a week or so of antibiotics and is now completely fine. I think that any company who profits from consumers is inherently not out for “your” best interests and that “big pharma” and “big supplements” are equally guilty of wanting to profit from your illness/wellness and that no guru or sales pitch should undermine your common sense and critical thinking.
I have autoimmune issues and agree with your statement about diet, because science has proven that lectins cause systemic inflammation in people with compromised gut lining, people with PhD’s in biochemistry have done legitimate, unbiased research, and anecdotally, I’ve experienced the cessation of autoimmune symptoms after implementing the AIP diet. But equivocating an organic unprocessed diet with something like crystal healing is a poor argument. There is no science to back up that woo-woo, and until there is, it’s terrible practice for any business to recommend such “treatments” so loosely, especially if they’re also shilling said “treatments”. Goop hiring more functional doctors doesn’t make Goop more legit, it just means they’re paying some doctors of questionable integrity to sell pseudoscientific remedies to gullible rich people. There’s a reason you felt guilty going to that “summit”. Listen to your gut, it’s right.
“It might be more interesting to wonder why so many privileged white women are drawn to Goop’s “remedies”: why, given their many advantages in the world, do they still feel like they need fixing?” I could not agree more, that IS a far more interesting (and blog-worthy) question. Why the lack of contentment? Is the self-care market just fast -fashion and flat-pack repackaged in a way that seems less wasteful on the surface but still reeks of replacing relationships with purchases? “Detoxing” is really just code for “trying to lose weight”, its not cool to say you’d rather be thinner, but the subtext is still there. Pills and potions are not going to compensate for screen-time replacing sleep and human connections are much more healing than a pile of rocks. Tapping in on women’s insecurities and isolation in order to get them to hand over their cash is never ethical even if it is a successful formula. Would be sad to see the EHD brand head in that direction.
This. This. This.
Agee. It has been sad for me so see EHD more and more over its recent years of financial successes develop this, shall I say ‘Goop’ attitude.
It now seems to to me lack a certain genuine humility and empathy for people who may not be as privileged as these people consider themselves.
It’s been kind of achingly maddeningly sad to see this happen to what seemed to have begun with just Emily and her wonderful design sense. What has happened to that? Is it inevitable that this would happen when someone becomes one of the truly “privileged”?
What utter nonsense as most recently evidenced by the empathy and sheer joy of then entire team in the recent makeovers they have done for others less fortunate.
I fully agree with everything you wrote, Emma.
100% this. I don’t have feelings about Gwyneth Paltrow as a person. I don’t know her. I will never know her. I don’t really care what she is like, nice or not. She peddles “remedies” that we have evidence do nothing, and some of them ARE HARMFUL. Then people like you come and say “well, its not harmful! I’m open minded. It COULD work”. Emily, be real, IT DOESN’T. Crystals are all fine and not dangerous, but saying we don’t know if they work or not is just spouting more pseudoscientific BS. Science is under attack enough, don’t use your platform as a designer to make this even worse than it is. Stick with what you know, please.
Just to correct here – crystals are mined, from the earth, with little to no oversight and are often very environmentally damaging. For anyone who is going to use them please please please get them from a guaranteed eco friendly source that makes sure they are responsibly mined. Or consider other ways to realign your energies and stuff.
ALL OF THIS.
would love to know the geographical source of attendees. Were the 600 women attending all from Southern Cal? Where else does Goop hold $1000 a day conferences? Just pointing out that in most of the rest of the country, none of this would fly…..
ha. while I don’t agree with everything you say I do love your question: “It might be more interesting to wonder why so many privileged white women are drawn to Goop’s “remedies”: why, given their many advantages in the world, do they still feel like they need fixing?” For me I feel like there is a general obsession with self improvement, for me it feels more like a fun (and often hilarious) hobby. But I take it so not seriously, while often the placebo affect is there. But the podcast has some experts that really are scientists, i promise – give it a try 🙂
Is that actually true?
As a longtime reader and BIG fan, sometimes I wonder if you’re performing the whole “not taking it seriously” thing as a way to feel like you haven’t bought into the whole system.
As an observer, I sometimes wonder how much you’re on the outside of the whole thing, laughing at it and aware of how silly it is, and whether you’re actually trying to mask your own participation.
This question is more centered around restrictive eating and a beauty industry that disguises itself as wellness, versus the pseudoscience stuff goop promotes. Where a thin, unwrinkled body is the ultimate symbol of health.
I think what people forget is that privilege has nothing to do with your mental health. The amount of money you make or earn doesn’t make a dent in some people’s stress or anxiety. Sure, if finances are the base of your anxiety then yes, money may help relieve that. But you can work hard, have it “all” and still struggle with mental health. And when you are in the deepest, darkest corners of your depression or anxiety, you’d pay any amount for something that will fix that. So if that’s expensive conferences or crystals or creams, that’s what a person will try! This may not be the case for all “privileged women” but I feel it should be a consideration to all these people jumping on “why privileged women” need self help etc. Just my two cents. I thought the article was really interesting!
@Emily I think it’s because as a privileged white woman there’s no real “struggle”; i.e. you’re not wanting for anything. Not trying to get food/water/shelter/privilege- you already have that. There’s a level of boredom there I think. Trying to amuse and entertain oneself. (Not specifically referencing you – just a general thought.)
Fascinating discussion. Your comment resonates with me. I’ve gone from living in my in laws house due to lack of money to being able to buy a house in cash in just under 7 years. And until I had money (“excessive money”) I never indulged In self help trends. Once I became “wealthy” I found myself making more and more purchases in an effort to “help/improve myself”. I think you’re right. I think it is human nature to need some sort of struggle. Without it, it feels as if we’re not progressing. Or as Emily has said “we aren’t as fulfilled”. As a “wealthy” person in a happy marriage, doing what I love (mother of 3) I did feel without true struggle. And I found myself inventing smaller, artificial struggles that don’t truely fill that void. Whether it’s unnecessary house/renovation projects, better skincare regimes, orgazational projects, etc. Recently I had come to realize that just because I have money doesn’t mean I should allow myself to live without struggle. We use to live in a neighborhood with amazing schools, expensive houses, and zero diversity (economic, cultural, racial, etc). I kept thinking but MY kids won’t grow up “privileged”. We’ll teach… Read more »
I loved your last sentence, Lex. I love how introspective you are about your good fortune!
Thanks for this comment.
As a person of privilege the earlier “but my oxygen mask!” Statements were not ringing true for me. If you have time, resources and energy to worry about “self care” and remedies instead of survival- your oxygen mask is already on. It’s amazing how things like anxiety, bad habits and things you want to “fix” will diminish themselves on their own when you start to help other people.
Everything you said was spot on. And when I’m a millionaire I strive to be just like you. Cheers.
Yes, yes, yes! Everything you’ve said here. Completely the way I feel. Being an actual part of a community and giving your time and energy to people you’ve developed relationships vs. giving back to an organization because it “feels good.”
This is so wonderful, and how I’ve hoped I’d make choices if I had them to make. Your example is beautiful and right and how I wish the whole world could hear of it.
Lex, I love your comment. Hopefully your fighting to ensure your kids get the education they deserve will positively impact other kids at the school who might not have someone fighting for them! It’s a great example of helping people climb up the ladder ❤️
Gahhh! So good! Thank you for sharing. I needed to hear this.
Sounds cliche but it’s true: When you are always focused on yourself, you are less likely to be happy. Being more focused on others leads to contentment and more positive energy and it comes without the $1k price tag or the expensive alternative products that also cost an arm and a leg. I’m happy to not to be in her demographic. She is extremely financially “privileged” but I feel so much more privileged in my life than I would in hers. Sometimes less is more. Or otherwise said, there is a point of diminishing return that leads with diminishing perspective. Her brand is off putting because it doesn’t feel like she lost perspective- it feels like she’s never had it to begin with- and she isn’t accidentally exclusive- that’s a brand choice. Many brands make that choice, but they aren’t selling wellness to women who clearly can’t throw enough money at the problem to fix it.
I think it really comes down to whether or not you believe the classism is accidental or purposeful. I just don’t see how a brand so supposedly focused on introspection and mindfulness could be unaware of how damaging a lot of their message is. I don’t hate Gwyneth Paltrow or people who like Goop, but I’ve worked in hunger relief for most of my career and I’ve seen the damage this particular kind of classism can do. Goop may not directly encourage judgement, but they certainly “other” those who choose (or often cannot afford) to practice what their brand preaches. Maybe the company is changing–I hope so. Anyway, we probably mostly disagree on this, but I appreciate your willingness to talk about these kinds of things so honestly and openly when you don’t have to. I know it must be stressful to put your opinions out there when people are so quick to throw out criticisms.
Thank you, Hannah.
I’m not a Goop fan (mostly neutral about it) but I think that the tired, blanket argument that everything she does and makes is “snake oil” just seems knee-jerk—I took a quick peek at some of her supplement ingredients list and pretty sure that calcium, magnesium and choline isn’t exactly snake oil. Plenty of studies on that. I am concerned about the argument that everything we sign off on must be approved by popular “science” and “scientifically proven”’or it’s bunk. What does that even mean really? I think we forget that science is a man-made construct, paradigm and lens in which we see the world and it’s constantly evolving and most of what we consider modern health science in the U.S. has been controlled by wealthy, white, powerful men. While modern science has given us much, it’s naive to put too much faith in a medical industry that not that long ago was telling us smoking cigarettes was just fine when they knew dang well it was killing us. Doctors were on tobacco commercials, puffing away, reassuring it was not a problem. And why? Big Tobacco’s $ was controlling the “science”. Let’s not forget how much of scientific research is… Read more »
Ed and Louann, I agree. Science and standards are evolving. Recommendations on when to eat peanut butter are evolving. Evidence about consumption of unsaturated fats is evolving. In addition, doctors and physician groups and health organizations are imperfect – comprised of people with faults, just like the rest of us. I think it’s wise to be open to the stuff that today might be tossed aside as ‘snake oil.’
I have a feeling that Eastern medicine was onto something the whole time. The West may need to catch up.
This was so well said about the draw to self-improvement remedies. It might sound trite but I think you can’t overestimate how much living in LA encourages and influences this. In my personal experience, in LA I was constantly bombarded with people who were seemingly skinnier, tanner, healthier and happier than I was. Everything you are surrounded by constantly shouts eat-drink-buy-do this or you’re a waste of space! Yes, you can argue that we all get this pressure all day long through social media and TV, but in LA it is amplified several times over. It seems like everyone around you has bought in and is winning at life and one step ahead— better catch up! I can imagine a Goop health summit would have a much harder time filling $1,000 seats anywhere but there.
Anywho— I agree, I’d be interested in further conversation about the balance between self-improvement and self-acceptance. Can we stop spending time and money on brands that tell us we’re not enough and instead learn to embrace ourselves as we are? How much more/less healthy would we be if we did that? Where’s the line?
You’re missing one important fact, which is that while goop is new age and woo woo, they are trying to get the full story and often have experts on their podcast that contradict previous experts. There was specifically one doctor who said that you do not need to do cleanses-your body detoxifies it’s self.
So while this may add to your thoughts that it’s all fake, it actually shows more elements of journalistic integrity. Additionally we should underestimate the power of our minds to effect change in our bodies, what works for some will not work for others. Why else would there be 15 + types of anti-depression drugs on the markets.
I work in international public health. I spend time in facilities where children die because there is no consistent access to $5 drugs.
Reading this entire thread – and the comments – makes me feel so alone. There’s a larger world than California and the USA and you don’t actually have to use a tuning fork to get in touch with yourself to be able to LITERALLY change the world for the better by saving lives.
I need a release and I enjoy interior decorating and this isn’t meant to ruin this happy space so this is my final take away: Emily, I love you and the work you’re doing with finding your spirituality. Leave the USA/Europe and go see the real world and how humans actually live on this earth, because you’re privileged enough to go find the truth for yourself. I promise you’ll never feel compelled by Goop again. None of this matters one whit. You can argue all you want about science and it’s shortcomings but please realize that a lot of the world doesn’t even have access to the most basic drugs that we KNOW save lives.
This comment really puts it in perspective for me, a middle-class non-millionaire who teeter-totters between already feeling quite privileged and thinking, “if only we made [$] more…” Thank you.
Hi SSM, what organization do you work for? Is there a way for us to support?
Well said, SSM.
Love this comment. People’s lives are in the balance due to inequities and it should be mentioned that overconsumption (and the environmental degradation that ensues) puts those who are most vulnerable and least responsible in harms way.
Thanks for this article! I really didn’t know much about Goop. Very interesting! I think you probably hit the nail on the head – they’re doing what they’re doing well, it’s just missing the “helping others” angle. I agree that you need to put your own oxygen mask on first, but that whole analogy ends with “so you can put the other person’s on.”
I believe talking self-help is important but should always be framed in the bigger picture of creating a meaningful life that includes service to others.
Thank you Emily for always writing thoughtfully anytime you delve into areas outside of design. It’s refreshing!
yes. this comment encompassess everything i wanted to say. : )
I don’t know much about Goop except what i’ve heard. i would like to listen to the podcasts. i really need to figure out how to listen to podcasts on my phone. i’m very technologically stunted : )
Thanks for the well thought-out article. Always appreciate your openness!
I feel that this event *did* help out the non-privileged. If the event had food – Weren’t there dozens of workers who either cooked food or served food? What about the setup company’s workers – folks who rented chairs, folks who set up chairs. Many of these are likely blue-collar workers who had an opportunity to earn income for the part of the week. Even event coordinators – those workers probably came home exhausted and happy about their event going so smoothly – a good day’s (year’s – in preparation!) work.
Charity is awesome, too, but these events are not devoid of helping people other than the attendees.
I get what you’re saying, but I don’t think I’d call paying someone to do their job as “help.” Maybe if the blue-collar workers you’re referring to owned the food/setup businesses, but I doubt a VIP event at $1,000 a ticket was reaching out to small business owners in the community.
Service workers are frequently paid minimum wage, which is not a living wage anywhere, and especially not in Los Angeles. Perhaps they were paid a lot to reflect the cost of attendance, but I would doubt it. Truthfully, this comment feels like a little like a more benign modern day version of the old justifications of slavery as if it were a kindness or favor to the enslaved people and gave them opportunities they otherwise would not have had.
I think slavery is abhorrent, but people having an opportunity to work for a wage that they want to work for (vs. not having a job) is an opportunity. As long as people aren’t forced to do this work, wouldn’t you agree it’s an opportunity? I fully support these workers (myself included) quitting and moving to a different job at any moment they desire. Employers can attract workers… and the cycle of creating an economy where money can be earned (something that I think economies in lower-GDP countries strive for) continues.
Hmm, I just don’t like calling giving a lower class person a short term job charity. Is it an opportunity? Yes, but I would not call it charity. That statement alone is oozing with elitism and privilege. I think why Goop turns so many people off, is bc of the divide it creates. It’s the divide between the elitism to the middle class, it’s just too much. Someone serving at that event is probably happy and grateful to make money, but it also wasn’t a regular, steady job. The event is over. It also creates a very real reality of where they come from and what they don’t have. It does seem like these group of elitism women are often telling the middle/lower class how their opinions should be trusted more or something bc Goop and GP is smarter and better bc they have the money, education, ext. I really appreciate Emily’s post here and honesty. I think this is an important conversation. It think this really comes down to income inequality. It’s this divide, between the higher class and lower classes that has always been there, but thanks to technology and social media people are hyper aware of how… Read more »
This whole “You can quit anytime you want and find something new!”/“You can move to a new state anytime you want! Why stay somewhere if you don’t like it?” worldview is so, sooooo elitist, classist and out of touch. People who say things like this CLEARLY have no idea how hard it would be for someone poor to just quit their job or just up and move to a new town. This type of person subscribes to the bootstrap myth of being able to do anything you choose if you set your mind to it, which doesn’t take into account the facts of life for poor people. This type of person knows nothing of food deserts, how hard it is to find a job these days that pays more than minimum wage, how minimum wage comes nowhere close to meeting the standards of living in most places (and especially not in a place like LA or NYC). If you can barely make ends meet, how are you supposed to come up with the thousands of $ you’d need to move to a new town or state? Let’s not even get into how much worse it is if the person is… Read more »
Thank you, @Erika!
This is an important point. Any large scale event with a massive budget spins out work & contracts to an army of service providers. I work in the art industry in a third world country. We are scaling back large-scale client hospitality events because of economic uncertainty, and all of my service providers are concerned at the loss in revenue from my company’s regularly scheduled events. It’s a myopic view to think that “giving back” is only realised via some overt, branded charity mission. The massive scale of the GOOP event was doubtless thousands of dollars of employee-paying revenue for companies of all shapes and sizes.
Creating something whether it is a product, company or an event is amazing, but let’s be clear— it is not charity. It might even be better than charity, but to call it charity is missing the mark completely, to act like it was a gift to the poor is ridiculous. Charity is a generous gift, this was a transaction between two people who needed each other and traded services, nothing wrong with that, but certainly not charity.
Let’s hope they were paid a living wage.
Working for minimum wage in the USA is not “an opportunity” unless you have absolutely nothing. It doesn’t even sustain the basic necessities of life. This idea that people should be grateful to work for a pittance at an event like this is a serious misunderstanding of human dignity and the rights we should all have on an earth where there’s enough to go around. Sounds like an excuse to help one sleep at night.
I’m not familiar with the podcasts but I will look for them. But Her cookbook, “ My Fathers Daughter” is wonderful. I found my copy at a Goodwill books only store and I love it. I like kombucha too.
All of her cookbooks are surprisingly great. Her slow roasted tomato recipe is one of my top ten favorites things I’ve ever eaten. Just had to chime in and add that!
Jade eggs and pseudoscience aside, you summed up my frustration with this brand in the paragraph about self-help vs fulfilment through helping others. I’m happy for the women making healthy changes in their lives thanks to goop, but it’s still really hard (read: impossible) for me to respect this brand. Some might disagree, but I think it’s unhealthy to place personal fulfilment on such a pedestal. I think self-love can turn into narcissism if you aren’t intentional about giving back or engaging with the hardships others go through. It’s a real turn off for me when a brand influencing consumers is silent on sustainability, responsible consumer choices, and social issues.
Thank you for saving me from a long response! 100% agree. And I think Goop only backed off of some of the more icky stuff because they had numbers to show it was hurting profits. I don’t think it was because of any conscious decision on their part to do better.
Agree. Paltrow admitted in a New York Times interview that they do no research into the viability of the things they recommend.
And the person who argued that the little people are ‘helped’ by serving the wealthy people — have you heard of white privilege? Yeah, slaves were happy to have food and shelter, too!
Can I just say, in support of Emily Henderson… This woman has almost single handedly taught me to design through her exceptional and completely free blog. I live in another country and over all the years of reading and soaking up her knowledge, reading about her design mistakes, filing her advice away for when I need it and just generally thousands upon thousands of hours of toil and labour, I basically have an honourary degree in interior design. Some days I actually think I could work for Emily because she has trained me so well. If that means that once in a while to get re-inspired and do some professional self-reflection she attends a self help day to CONTINUE TO HELP ME AND WHOEVER IN THE WORLD WANTS TO UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT DESIGN FOR FREE then so be it. And so it should be that her business pays for it and it’s a tax deduction. None of us are paying her for this. We’re all users – or should I say opportunists – too. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to keep up daily content whilst maintaining a life. I’m so genuinely appreciative of you, your time and… Read more »
Agreed! Emilys book is what inspired me to change careers and become an interior designer. Her design advice and blog has been a huge source of design education and help throughout my journey. And to your point Sarah- all free which is incredible. Thanks Emily and team!
That’s not really the point though. Yes, there is a lot to be grateful for in the tireless effort Emily puts into giving her audience thorough, detailed, free design advice. And there shouldn’t be a an expectation put on her to be the perfect role model because that is unrealistic for anybody and also not her job. For me, my one issue with this whole topic is she is somebody with a large platform (and a whole lot of privilege) giving a platform to another woman (who also has a large platform and lots of privilege) who MAKES MONEY OFF OF DANGEROUS PRODUCTS FOR WOMEN. The jade eggs and products meant to be put in a woman’s vagina are dangerous.
Sarah great comment ??
Oh, beautifully said, Sarah!
This comment exactly.
YES! love this comment.
man. it took me hours and hours and hours to write this post (i’m a long processor) and you just summed it up perfectly. listen, i know they are reading but you guys – THIS AUDIENCE – has called me out on not being sustainable, on not being green enough and it took a while for me to honestly do the research enough to really feel emboldened to make the changes, but i’m SO GLAD you did. So while I woke up with an absolute panic attack that it was actually published without two more weeks of tweaking part of me was like – well, maybe it will help …
So true! We all get to enjoy Emily’s knowledge for ? free ?. People enjoying Goop and attending the conference shouldn’t be the issue. There are TONS of things some people enjoy and others don’t. Or things some some people can afford and others cannot. Goop polarizes these differences and I think that’s why people have such a reaction. When it comes to health, I believe no one should be in the position to not have enough money to be healthy and have access to healthcare (be it pharmaceuticals or *goopy* remedies).That’s what gets me down. There are people literally dying and going bankrupt to purchase medicine for themselves and their families. It IS a huge conversation in the world and when people see privileged people going home with 20 pound totes- yeah maybe it’s triggering. It I’m glad this conversation is happening. I can only hope that the privileged white guilt *does* push people towards making a difference for those less fortunate. Just because it’s the right thing to do, not for a business slogan or publicity. There’s no ONE way to do this. Find a way that works for you. A long time ago someone told me “you… Read more »
Thank you for writing this thoughtful post Emily. I enjoyed reading it and the comments. Many good points to ponder. Like you, I’ve been on a bit of a spiritual journey the last year trying to figure out my purpose in life. In fact, it was seeing your Insta story about Many Lives Many Masters that launched my journey. You may never understand your purpose because it’s impossible to know how many lives you are influencing, even in a small way like an Insta post.
I completely agree with you, Clarissa.
Yes, and it’s the extremism of the income inequality that gets to me. The sheer excess when others have so little, isn’t adequately recognized by Goop or society in general. Would I be okay if I had less, so that others could have more? To me this is the “joke” that Goop isn’t in on.
While I try to embrace new experiences, the whole program seems very, well, Kardashian except with blonde hair. Buy my stuff and you too can live this glamorous boho life. So it will never be for me. Your thoughts on this are interesting, though.
i’ve been agreeing with some of the other comments. but i have to say that your description as “the whole program seems very, well, Kardashian except with blonde hair” is the perfect description of how this comes off. the very WASP version of the Kardashians. and this is based just on anything i’ve ever heard about Goop and this post.
to each their own. i really don’t care about Goop, because i know nothing about it. though i would be totally willing to check it out. i appreciate Emily’s take on it. i like the part about the missing part about helping others and that “it’s the responsibility of the elite to serve others”. this is what i love about Emily.
A lot of the wellness and self-care/self-help industry plays into insecurity and it preys on women feeling bad about themselves and it’s not unique to Goop but she certainly helped kick off the trend. It’s why I just cannot get on board. I appreciate Emily’s take here but it just doesn’t work for me.
Such an interesting topic! I guess I’m one of the few people who is actually somewhat neutral on Goop. I used to receive their newsletters (years ago, maybe 5+ years since I unsubscribed) but didn’t feel I was really interacting with them enough to be worth the inbox clutter. I was only mostly interested in recipes but healthy recipes or detox suggestions are a dime a dozen on the internet now and I can easily find the info if I want. I didn’t need to be inundated with her shopping suggestions – I will always be poor compared to her demographic so I didn’t find that helpful in any way. I appreciate Emily’s thoughts on the wellness aspect of Goop’s business but unfortunately I think Goop undermines their wellness business with all the shopping suggestions. Even now, on their page, she had clothing links to $800 skirts and sweaters etc. That’s fine if she and some of her followers can afford it. But it tends to make the healthy content seem disingenuous. I don’t really understand the vitriol though, I mean, let’s just think for ourselves and let others do as they please. I’m not going to shove a rock… Read more »
I have no thoughts on Goop and could not care less about Gwyneth Paltrow, but I was confused as to why you were reviewing (?) defending (?) the woman on a design blog. I read the article to find out, and there is was, crystal clear… so that you could write off the ticket as a business expense. Unbelievable. Literally writing this pointless content, just so you can write off your THOUSAND dollar day out with the girls? Come on now, Emily. You keep claiming you grew up middle-class, can’t you see how ridiculous that is? Your criticism, “I don’t really know what they value, I don’t understand their “why” beyond creating interesting conversations and recommending the newest organic self-tanner.” could be used for the Emily Henderson brand. I no longer understand your “why”, it’s all links to expensive outfits (which given you criticism of goop had better be ethically sourced) and “link roundups” which are poorly disguised excuses for affiliate links on glow tonic. I understand that’s how you make a lot of your money (and you must be making a lot, regardless of $1000 event tickets, to be buying the volume of clothes and shoes that you do),… Read more »
You weren’t required to click on this post let alone read it. You’re being pretty patronizing here yourself — about free content you weren’t required to read.
P.S. I am not a Goop fan. But I appreciate Emily’s honesty in writing about this.
Yeah, I was also confused by this article. I’ve sort of turned a blind eye to your links to Goop in the past because I don’t really engage with the roundups anyway, but thought it was odd that you dedicated a whole post to defend this brand. Why use the platform you’ve worked so hard for to jump in the ring defending Gwyneth who seems to be doing alright for herself? Especially after pointing out her brand’s many flaws?I love your flash makeovers to help families and the good work you do for your community. I’m GLAD that you aren’t goop, and hope this is a one-off post. Honestly, I’ll be disappointed if you throw another $1,000 at, what is in my opinion, such an unworthy cause next year.
I agree with everything you have said, with one addition: this article is surely just clickbait?
Thank you for saying this! That’s all I could think of while reading. I love Emily Henderson for her design aesthetic, hard work, and fun personality, but this article felt really off-base. I’m all for exploring new things and I’d never tell someone to “stay in their lane” but when she openly admitted that this article was just to get a tax write-off it felt totally disingenuous and Emily’s genuiness is one of my favorite things about her! And I completely agree that her criticism of the Goop brand had a lot of similarities with the content her own brand is trying to sell – overpriced items her followers can only dream of buying. I understand there’s people out there who can afford it, but in reality they are the ones HIRING her, not reading her blog. We’re here for the money savvy ideas! Emily – if you’re reading this, we still love you but please don’t exploit your readers like this!
Have to respectfully disagree that this site is just selling overpriced items to the same sort of wealthy demographic Goop is targeting. I feel like this site is extremely aware of budget constraints and often features thrifted, diy, and of course, Target finds. Not to mention the reams of advice one would normally have to pay an expensive designer for, much of which I’ve used in my current remodel and which has saved me time and headaches!
I found the article interesting and learned a few things that I didn’t know. That’s the great thing about Emily’s blog, it’s diverse and fresh. If I don’t like someone’s blog post, I just move on, because I realize someone else may benefit from it.
YES to all of this!
I think some of the points you are trying to make are valid and I hope Emily can read through the painful tone to see them. I would recommend that in the future, if you want your criticisms to be effective, work on making your points in a way that don’t knock-down-and-drag-out the person you are trying to sell them to.
LJ: Agreed. Some people are so eager to be judgmental (the outrage police) they can’t even hear how they sound. They’re usually just as biased and myopic as the thing they are attacking.
Fair comment, LJ. I take your point and will work on being less pointed in future.
So well said!! I have been feeling less and less connected to the content and it’s directly attributable to the What I’m Wearing and what I’m Eating posts. I get it – this is a business and bloggers make SO MUCH MONEY from affiliate links, but it’s getting farther and farther from Emily’s “brand”. OF COURSE, Emily can rebrand and her content can (and should) evolve. But do it for the passion you feel and the excitement it brings you. Not for $1000 ticket to a conference you feel so-so about and the cash you’ll make from hawking an expensive outfit. Thanks, for reading these comments, Emily, and honestly admitting that you’re just trying to figure this all out too.
It is not unusual for small business owners to look at an opportunity to attend an event that is not a “must attend” experience and to identify ways for which they can legitimately right off all or a portion of it as a business expense. I do this periodically as a small business owner myself, attending something out of curiosity, a quality that I believe greatly contributes to my success.
Consider applying your line of thinking to a different situation. For example, I am an engineer whose job description is to review plans for quality, however, I constantly think about sustainability and how using paperless reviews reduce waste, reduce costs that can be reintroduced to a community, etc.
Now, apply this thought and ask – Why would a reviewer be concerned with sustainability? You could argue that it is something that is outside a reviewers scope, but what would the office or community gain from this (other a mound of paper waste)?
I guess my point in this long winded response is just because Emily is a designer does not mean she should have to exclusively post about design. Often times other opinions (sometimes different than our own) offer a challenge and inspire growth.
I do agree with your point about the irony between criticizing Goop for not providing a vehicle to give but still considering writing off the ticket cost. However, it’s Emily’s business and her honesty and openness about matter is so refreshing.
Personally, I have never been interested in goop or GP, but now I am curious.
Thank you Hayley. This blog is a list of affiliate links from top to bottom each day of the week. I don’t mind that -if she is clever enough making millions that way good for her. However, calling other people out on doing exactly what she is doing – selling stuff and contributing to the earth’s waste, all the while doing it under cover of a ‘spiritual journey’ just takes the cake. LA is full of hacks. It’s insidious in that environment and clearly afflicts everyone sooner or later.
I don’t understand the tone of this comment, to be quite frank. Your words do not read as any sort of constructive criticism, so I’m left to wonder what’s the point. Is your intention to just drag Emily because you’re, what, frustrated with her content? It just seems so petty. Yes, this is a design blog, and if you want you can find a whole lot of design advice. It doesn’t mean the creator has an obligation to never branch out or post things that are outside that scope. Because the content provided here is free. The blog isn’t selling you something, which is what irks me about goop – the pseudoscience is used to back the things they sell. EHD blog doesn’t sell anything; sometimes it sources things that go with the design advice, sure, but they’re not the seller. Tbh, this could very well be a blog with design advice for rich people, with expensive items and tips, or for poor people, all budget concerns, and it would still be fine: things can have different demographics. And yet, it isn’t. It has budget advices (more so recently, after some people stated their need for it) and more expensive… Read more »
“It was (maybe?) unintentionally exclusive, mostly for wealthy people and inherently that is alienating to many, and when one feels alienated, it’s easy to be angry/dismissive.”
This phrase describes this entire post. But apparently I’m instructed to not post anything blatantly negative, so am I allowed to hit “post”?
As I read this post I found myself, in turns, nodding along, wrinkling my nose in skepticism, laughing at the butt shots, and generally changing feelings with every paragraph.
Any conclusions about Goop aside, I really enjoyed this post, Emily! An interesting meta-reflection on lifestyle brands and the responsibility and perception of powerful women.
Thanks for writing this! I honestly have always loved Goop and have followed along since her very first newsletter. I guess I take it worth a grain of salt? I do not take supplements, brain powders, jade eggs, vagina steams etc. I just read about it and move on because I just am not interested? What I do love are her recipes, travel recommendations, and recently the podcast. Not all of her travel advice is that extravagant. She suggest a many funky, low-key spots that are often some of my favorite parts of a trip. As you mentioned, the Podcast is fantastic, with truly amazing speakers. Elise also comes across as a grounded, well intentioned person. She often talks about issues that I feel like many people struggle with. I even had my husband listen to a few of them! I totally agree with your criticism of the Goop Wellness…I had never thought of it that way…but you are so right!
Would love a blog post about the podcasts, self help books etc you have been reading this past year and half.
Thank you for such a kind and well considered post. I agree wholeheartedly with your criticism and found it to be the most worthwhile and constructive criticism of Goop that I’ve seen. Perhaps that is at the core of people’s discomfort with the Goop brand – its lack of clear underlying values? Or that the values it seems to operate under are so misaligned with most people’s core values?
Hmmm, not sure why but it seems these days if you do not help others, you are considered to be less human. I do not believe that everybody has to help others, some people have it in them to help and some do not. And that is fine. I feel like a lot of USA bloggers and instagram influencers are all about helping others all of the time, that must get exhausting. It is not your job as a human to help everyone, help where you can and when you want and stop with this privilege bull shit.
well, I have to disagree with your comment on a fundamental level. I really think people not helping each other is why the world is going to hell in a basket. The only way we can live better lives is to not only asking and getting, but also giving.
but privilege is real. It doesn’t mean a certain group doesn’t have struggles or hardships, it just mean they stand on a certain ground where many common struggles and hardships don’t exist – like hunger, like racial prejudice, extreme poverty, lack of basic needs and rights. If you never go to bed hungry, is able to care for your kids, be healthy and not have to worry about very basic needs, then you’re privileged and I’m very happy for you. If you’re rich, that’s even more of a privilege, and it’s still fine. Just be aware that such privilege exists, since not everyone have this basic things we take for granted. Being aware keeps us humble and grateful, it’s good not only for the world – because we become more empathetic – but for ourselves as well 🙂
I would like to respond from a generally sympathetic perspective here–I am a professional academic with the heart of a 90s “hippie” who loves your CA brightness–but to me this whole take is missing the mark. The fundamental point of Goop is not wellness (however one might define it), but rather security (power + money) and good taste. How many times have you been enticed by a holistic or alternative product that was designed in a way that struck you as tacky, dirty, ugly, etc.? Not that good taste can’t give someone a sense wellness—quite the opposite, IMO—but capitalist enterprises, which by definition will put profit over wellness, have understood how to manipulate medical skepticism, popular feminism, etc., for a long time. I disagree that GP’s exclusivity is/was unintentional. The opposite seems much more likely: her success can be attributed to very precise balancing of what will come off as exclusive to whom. There’s a reason the conference tix are 1k and not 5 (which I’m guessing they could probably pull off too)—“barely attainable” to a very precise and narrow demographic is no doubt exactly the mark they want to hit. A final thought: In GP’s world, is there room… Read more »
Amen to this
At the same time, I don’t excoriate Gwyneth Paltrow for creating a business. She’s hardly the only brand in this space. I think the criticism of her is plain old sexism. People feel the need to criticize, condemn and try to control her behavior in an extremely personal way – this doesn’t happen to men. If you don’t like her message, ignore it.
Amen, my hippie skeptic friend.
This this this
This. I do wonder if a lot of the focus on well-being in a goopy, product-heavy sort of way isn’t a defence against being vulnerable, against the idea that shit happens to very nice people who absolutely don’t deserve it. Wouldn’t it be more productive if instead of buying expensive stuff that promises to fix it all (or *just wanting harder* – I have to say the ‘manifesting’ thing especially grates), we responded to this sort of fear by working to make our society a safe and welcoming place for everyone, by trying to make sure no-one’s basic needs go unmet, by just being there for someone around us who is struggling?
This comment exactly.
So many great points here. I don’t have a problem with Gwyneth Paltrow — I like her acting and think she’s a brilliant businesswoman. Good for her, and for the women she employs! But Goop’s branding as a wellness and spirituality brand opens it up to accountability by scientists, psychologists, and folx working to make the world a better place through social justice work — as it very much should be. If Goop stayed in its lane as a “we like beautiful things, here are some beautiful things you can buy from us!” company, I would find it a lot more genuine and appealing, rather than capitalizing on fear and insecurity surrounding health and self-improvement.
Also wanted to add that I enjoyed reading Emily’s take (both the initial and the additions), but I don’t think it’s necessary for her to defend or justify her attendance at the summit. A family trip to Disneyland may cost $1000, and could also be seen as excessive and privileged and giving money to corporations that could do a hell of a lot more to help the world, but we don’t have the same angry reaction to Emily or another female blogger posting those pics. Could that have something to do with internalized misogyny? Maybe….
Elisabeth: I think the issue is that Emily admitted to writing this post so she could claim her ticket as a tax write off. The tax she should have paid on that $1000 would have been used to fund hospitals, pay public servants, and maintain roads. By writing off the cost of the ticket, she is essentially taking money away from the rest of the country. It’s a tiny amount, but the attitude is problematic.
This comment is the best comment of this entire thread. Thank you.
So beautifully put, especially the last paragraph.
We come here for design. Period.
I don’t. 😀
I come here to read what Emily and her colleagues have to say about anything THEY decide to post about on THEIR blog. And if it interests me, I read it. But if it doesn’t, I don’t have a temper tantrum on the web about it.
It ain’t that hard to scroll on by.
I like your comment.:-)
I bet you’re one of those people that gets angry when actors talk about politics.
I don’t. I come for all of it, and if there’s something posted that I’m not interested in, I can choose to scroll on by.
SAME! The survey she did said as much too!
Is that the royal “we”? Whom are you speaking for? Not me.
/You/ come here for the design. And it’s good, keep coming for the design and skip the rest of the post. We’ll all be happier.
The world – or, more specifically, the people from EHD – don’t have to cater to your specific demands. Period.
Please speak for yourself.
I think that after reading this analysis, you may be my favorite influencer. The honesty, heart and care your brand has is what this world needs more. Thank you, Emily.
It’s easy to say she gets a lot of criticism because she’s a woman but I really don’t agree.
ALOT of what she’s doing IS NOT new it’s just repackaged and appropriated for primarily rich white women from practices and cultural traditions of marginalized people.
The entire concept of her work is classist and elitist and yeah folks absolutely have a right to be turned off by that.
I hope you can reach out into the interwebs and read about the experiences of women of color at the Goop summit and in experience with her work overall.
This. Thank you. The exclusivity and the endless sea of entitled white faces is just gross. So much of GOOP smacks of problematic white feminism, that self-absorption is okay so long as it feels good and whatever makes me feel better has to be good and if I feel good then I am good and… blah blah blah. We are guilty of so much cultural appropriation and burying our heads in the sand for “self preservation”. And this weekend, as people are debating whether children held in cages can be called concentration camps or not, it just feels extra crass. I will say that I really appreciate Emily and her writing here a lot. And as a neighbor I’m relieved she vaccinates her kids 🙂 Also, I think the idea that we need to find our purpose to be happy is a trap that’s easy to fall into. I happen to think it’s inherently capitalistic bullshit and it’s hard to tune that noise out. It feeds into this sense of “if only…” or “as soon as I try X, everything will be better”. It’s endless. Maybe the EH team could intentionally highlight the work of WOC interior designers and artisans… Read more »
Why not just highlight the best designers and writers regardless of their skin color?
I have no idea what color anyone who is called out on this blog for their design or a home owner who has done something wonderful with their interiors.
Because of people like you that think race doesn’t matter when it does. Just the fact that you felt offended enough to make this comment proves the original commenter’s point.
I’m 95% sure that most of the people and products featured on this blog are white and sold by white folks. When you make the choice to only feature white folks, you’re showing your privilege plus not giving a chance to people of other races to benefit from being featured on a blog with such a large readership.
People of color are excluded from the conversation in most rarefied circles in general, design being one of them. People need to not just talk about not being racist; they need to walk the walk as well.
Thanks Emily for your honest assessment of the experience. I appreciate that you are willing to have these discussions on sensitive topics. I don’t have any problem with Gwyneth Paltrow. I actually don’t know her to have any opinion about her! I usually don’t have any opinion about celebrities because I believe what they put out in the world is usually another character they play not their real self. And that is the case with anyone in power or famous. But I have a lot of problems with GOOP. As a preventive medicine physicians and a public health researcher in the field of health equity I believe healthy lifestyle is for everyone and for any income. I have problem with brands such as GOOP that sell the idea of healthy living as something fancy and out of reach for 95% of people. To live healthy you don’t need to have GOOP type of income. You don’t need to spend $$$ on groceries every week and you definitely don’t need their funky health and wellness regimen. Everyone can buy fresh products in regular grocery stores, walk in their neighborhood or to work, and have quiet 8 hour sleep every night. That… Read more »
This. I like GP’s persona just fine – I’m a well-to-do Californian, I’m into the woo, I buy stuff. But Goop does seem to prey on the anxiety that remains when all basic needs are met, in kind of a tone-deaf way. If you have a lot of followers, in my moral code, you have a responsibility to do a good and honorable job, and I don’t think Goop does. I think she’d probably reduce more anxiety and promote more wellness if she advised her followers to volunteer, if she organized something like Habitat for Humanity. Research shows that having a purpose, and feeling gratitude, do more for self-health than crystals of any sort.
This is absolutely out of touch. No, not everyone can have 8 hours of sleep at night. Or get fresh veggies-
Have you heard of food deserts??
Most of Emily’s readers can do these things, yes. But Mets be clear that not all Americans can. And to claim otherwise is completely out of touch with the reality of systemically oppressed and marginalized groups of Americans.
Perhaps that was your point, that most of the readership for this blog can. But be specific.
I agree to a point. Not everyone can be healthy, though. Everyone doesn’t have access to grocery stores stocked with inexpensive healthy food. Plus “inexpensive healthy food” is an oxymoron. It actually costs more to eat healthy than it does to eat at McDonalds every day. There is also such a thing as food desserts.
Many poor people can’t sleep 8 hours a day or get exercise. They’re too busy trying to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomach.
Erika: as I read through the comment she section, I find myself wanting to high five you for all of your posts! You keep saying what I’m thinking!
Well I’m glad what I’m saying is making sense to some people. I’m pretty sure I replied to one of yours as well.
“Sure, she was born and raised wealthy and has aspired to turn her career as an actor into a lifestyle brand; people take issue with this, although they would probably never do this for a man.” That statement couldn’t be more true. I always thought I was a feminist but at age 47 I realize all these years I just “thought” I was. So many, many things like this have been overlooked for so many years. So I work with people with severe anxiety, PTSD, depression using “civilianized” yoga techniques such as different types of breathing. I used to be a yoga teacher for the elite. It was not fulfilling. Why….? Looking at the glowing health of all of these privileged people, however nice they are, reminds me of how clueless many could be about the real problems that the average American people are dealing with daily. And by the way, many of them ‘work their asses off’ too. Some people in my workshops have 3 jobs and they still can’t afford to buy shoes for their kids let alone $1000 tickets for a one day retreat. So I think that ‘the one’ thing about Goop, not focusing on service… Read more »
I regret that I edited “can’t buy insulin for themselves” to “can’t afford to buy shoes for their kids.”
I thought I sounded too dramatic. But it’s true and I regret changing that now.
As a former Pilates instructor of 15 years (stopped being able to justify/cope with my life being all about Goop’s exact target demographic and the “wellness” industry that simply repackages new ways to keep women neurotic and insecure as hell, endlessly searching, striving, and naval gazing!) and the wife of a Type 1 diabetic I can absolutely relate to your post! And no, your comment about not being able to afford insulin is a very, very REAL challenge for many, many people! We’re fortunate enough to pay for it now (about $600 month out of pocket with our HD insurance plan!) which is a blessing but it absolutely impedes how much we’re able to save for retirement and his future insulin needs that will never go away (T1d is an autoimmune disease that attacked pancreas, NOT the result of poor lifestyle.), it is a constant stressor that never really goes away and we are doing well commpared to those who regularly ration their insulin because they have to choose between that and rent, electricity, school loan payments, etc….
My daughter who is six is Type 1 too! (Sending you guys unicorns of happy blood sugar. ) She was diagnosed almost exactly a year ago and her chronic, incurable, life threatening disease costs us around $10,000 per year …and we have insurance. I used to live in a bubble where bad things happened to other people and I did my little share of helping others but it wasn’t until my glass walls shattered with her diagnosis I couldn’t stomach the trite, time sucking musings of vagina steaming whereas before I might have found it mindlessly entertaining. Now when I see suffering, I see it in a new way. I see troubled lives and think that it could easily be me, nothing lasts forever, after all. I’m no longer out of touch and that’s actually been a good wake up call. The real question becomes what are we deciding is worth watching and reading and who should have a voice? What is ultimately relevant? Never have we had so much control over where we get our news from, our programming from, platforms abound. And so, unrelatable and irrelevant sources of information and influence should naturally fade in obscurity in its… Read more »
Your comment is inspiring to me, so thank you.
Excellent post. You touch on these “hot” topics so well. As someone who was an uninformed GOOP hater I really enjoyed it and will try the podcast.
Hmmm… the thing I keep telling my teenage daughter is: watch out for all the really expensive, mostly ineffective beauty “aids” that we as women are told we need. My whole problem with Goop and things like this is really about financial freedom. Which one of these things are marketed to men in the name of beauty, wellness, convenience , or self help/self care: lash extensions, self tanners, crystals, vag steaming, $500 purses, $150 moisturizers, highlighter, primer, bronzer, serums (and 10 skincare steps before you can leave the door), $100 leg and bikini waxing, adaptogen powders, yadda yadda. Why is it that in in age when more and more women are earning more money, we are being asked to spend so much of it in the name of self love? Has anyone else noticed that beauty routines went from a bottle of Nivea and a $2 razor to a 18 step process, some of which you need to visit a spa to do? No thanks. While preaching self acceptance and self love, we’re asked to buy a lot of products which indicate we’re not all that ok with ourselves and go broke doing it. Meanwhile it seems that men are… Read more »
I applaud your diatribe! 🙂
Thank you Danielle for taking the time to write this.
That’s capitalism for ya! They’ve made a multi-billion dollar beauty industry out of telling women they are not good enough. But even knowing that, it’s hard to cut through the BS and be happy with yourself, both physically and emotionally. Women have 80% of the buying power in this economy and are proven to make almost all of the financial decisions in the family unit, that’s why we’re targeted! We’ve got to take that buying power and use it for good – show big beauty industries that we don’t need all their “quick fixes” by opting out of buying those products. I am so happy to hear you are raising the next generation to be much more aware of what they are being shown in advertising and how to question the underlying message!
Excellent points! Lovely diatribe.
@Sim, keep that diatribe going!
I just love this and couldn’t agree more. I would add that I wonder why we aspire to be among the elite and perfectly coiffed? Why do we spend our energy and our money to try to be “like them” when we might never? I’m learning to be ok with never attaining that level of wealth (my needs are met) and simultaneously being turned off by the pining for such a wasteful lifestyle. I hope to teach my daughter that we shouldn’t spend our one precious life wishing to be something or someone else, which these articles seem to tell us we should.
Yes! Thank you for being so on point on why I’ve always been turned off by goop! And leaving me a little more open to what I could take away from what they offer 🙂
One little note (as a science teacher) is the use of the word theory. People dismiss things as theories (theory of evolution, climate change, Big Bang, etc) thinking it means “we aren’t really sure!” But actually theory is just a term that means the explanation of how or why something happens based on observation. A law is an explanation of what happens (gravity, genes). The people at goop are presenting hypotheses or guesses or questions.
Yes, this. There’s a *big* difference between the scientific sense of theory (as in “We’ve been chucking stuff at this model for 50 years now to see if we can disprove it and it seems to be holding up”) and some rich woman with a huge platform going “what I reckon is…” and being believed because of said platform. People think science is some sort of big monolithic authoritarian thing telling you what to do when really (on the inside at least – we do need to get a lot better at communicating this) it’s about an organised approach to doubt. It’s about realising there are lots of different contradictory opinions out there and having a process for assessing them that (when it’s working properly) doesn’t take into account what you want to be true or how powerful the people with each view are. I think that’s what drew me to science as a nerdy awkward teenager (massive shout-out to science teachers btw). This idea of equality, that if you come up with something interesting, people should listen to you regardless of who you are and that, conversely, being one of the popular kids isn’t going to help you if… Read more »
I am feeling confused and frustrated by this post because I do not understand the point of it. I wholeheartedly supported (and yelled YES!!!) the times you’ve taken a stand politically et al, or commented on what some view as controversial stuff, because, hey, that IS real life and we need take a moment and give voice to these things that matter and affect us — all of us. But this post – and the potential reasons for it(???) – leaves a bad taste in my mouth because it spotlights the “us and them” division in our society that has been sowed over the past few years that most of us are loath to. Political, cultural, racial, and geographical divisions in this country are striking and they are eating away at the fabric that used to make us feel, at least a little bit, united. Add female white privilege at – $1000 a pop – to this pot of angst and you can see the walls of these divisions growing taller. It’s totally fine that GOOP exists, I like Gwyneth enough and her on-stage cohorts but this post, it’s actual content, your take, and most importantly — the reason for… Read more »
Quote from Emily…“I don’t really know what they value, I don’t understand their “why” beyond creating interesting conversations and recommending the newest organic self-tanner.” I think Goop and Gwen (I refuse to call her Gwyneth) are slightly schizophrenic. Ultimately they are both about being curious and asking questions that make one consider health and personal well being. Both are thoughtful in a weirdly unrealistic but aspirational way. Both are easy targets for mockery and rage. But let’s admit SOME of that mockery and frustration is well deserved. They promote wellness but they don’t speak to wellness from the perspective of opening your heart to others and your life to stories that aren’t your own. They encourage thoughtful questions and being curious but they never dig deep into the answers that are beyond self care and more value based engagement. They espouse clean living without providing social and ethical clarity. And given the level of thought that goes into EVERY aspect of Goop it makes one wonder how thoughtful are they…really? It makes you feel icky about spending $1k on something that really does feel good but also makes you feel elitist. I don’t want to come off as lecturing or… Read more »
You are fricking awesome. Thank you.
Such a well written commentary on privilege. Thank you.
Danielle, I love what you’ve said. You care enough to fully explain your views. I’ve copied some of your paragraphs and want to read them each day to let what you’ve said (and you quoted others, I know) sink in. Thank you.
BOOM! I will send you a golden microphone because you deserve one that you can drop after comments like this.
Wow. Beautifully put. Love this.
Thank you for the articulate, educational, and thorough comment. I would love to have a glass of wine with *you*! If you had a blog I would follow.
For those that reacted to my comments…….wow…Thanks for liking what I said. It really makes me feel heard and understood. More importantly it makes me feel like conversations like these can contain multitudes and truly give food for thought. I’m just really passionate about brands and those with powerful platforms doing better. It isn’t hard it just means being really deliberate. And brands or powerful people that espouse deliberate choices must hold themselves to a higher standard. Plus…whenever a rich white person uses the word primitive to describe something…yikes…tell tale sign your coming up on some cultural appropriation. Pro tip. Anyway I do love a lot about Goop and Gwen’s presentation/aesthetic but they just have to do better and truly live up to their own ideals.
Thank you Danielle. I spent far too long reading the long list of comments hoping to read someone as articulate and informed as you contribute her reply. It was worth it! I needed your analysis and perspective to understand better the complex dynamics at work here from goop itself, to Emily’s take, and even the reaction in the comments. I used to follow goop out of a general curiosity and interest in health/wellness/travel. I unsubscribed some years ago but would occasionally read an article by someone I wanted to hear from, or try a new recipe. I just listened to the podcast episode with Brene Brown and found it genuine. But even more importantly, I would like to listen to an episode of the podcast with you as a guest, because what you are saying is every bit as valuable and needs amplification. If you can publish your perspective further afield I encourage you to do so. I am going to save your comments to re-read and process further. Thank you again.
10000000% this 🙂
So insightful and well written.
I thought this comment was too long to read but am glad i did! Super insightful!
Thank you for bringing needed awareness to the less priveleged. I sometimes think that I’m the only one that sees the disparaties in our world. I chose to help others for a living so I definitely don’t have a GOOP budget. Reading your post made me realize that there are others out there who “get it”.
Your comment post deserves to be framed. No! Published in an op ed. Then framed. Then you should do a press tour too 😉
But seriously, amazingly thoughtful well written and thank you for the insight. I’m better for having read it.
Love your well articulated thoughts. Very informative for some one like me. Thank you.
Well I was going to comment but now I don’t need to – this is everything! Thank you for taking the time to write such thoughtful words. Personally I just find the whole Goop philosophy gross – spending that much time and money on tweaking yourself to perfection is jaw-droppingly self-absorbed. If you have that much privilege to spare then use it to help other people and the planet. I agree with you – true wellbeing comes from giving back.
Powerful words Danielle. THIS is better than the article. More of this, please!
Sorry, Emily – this is the first article of your’s that made me feel really icky. Like Adele, I’ve wholeheartedly enjoyed your foray’s from design content. But this doesn’t feel authentic to the Emily Henderson brand. It’s clumsy, and it feels disingenuous.
Sure, this is your space to post what you want. I haven’t paid for this article – the whole of the blog is free and I can just click away. Maybe I have no right to feel frustrated by this?
Maybe it’s naive of me to expect that the brands I support participate in ethical social discussions.
Danielle, your comment was compelling, thoughtful, and well written. I wish more could read it who aren’t just following this comment thread on this blog.
?? ?? ??
Danielle, RIGHT ON.
Wonderfully thought out and written, thank you Danielle for taking the time to do it. Brava!!!
Your comment was worth the time I’ve spent on this topic. Thank you. I hope Emily reads it.
OMG! I love this. Your words are inspiring and grounding. I agree with another comment, I could read this everyday and everyday and everyday. I am often struck by news photos that show a sea of whiteness, thinking, “This does not look like the world I live in.” The world I live in, which has its own degrees of “whiteness,” is still more colorful, richer, more textured and nuanced, and is, what I consider, the “normal” world. It is craggy and often uncomfortable. But, it makes me think, makes me question and confront the rightness and wrongness of the scars and unbeautifullness that weave in and out of the landscape I inhabit. And, ultimately, that is the world I WANT to be a part of. I want to be both grateful for and question the place I hold in that landscape. Thank you, @Danielle!
This is interesting commentary on goop. The EHD post seemed out of touch. Trying to please everyone, but really coming off as hypocritical.
Thank you Danielle!! I completely agree with a previous commenter: more of this!
ALL OF THIS THANK YOU DANIELLE
I agree, but I would also add that GOOPs “curiosity” is entirely a front for their “exit through the gift shop” marketing… are you tired? Click here and buy our vitamins, youre tired because you probably have a genetic mutation that doesn’t allow you to break down regular cheap vitamins, so we’ve created these. Literally. It’s a modern day infomercial. You can only take it so seriously when the “articles” are literally advertisements for GP products, right? Typed while sipping moon dust smoothie.
I seem to be the only one who didn’t like this comment but “I refuse to call her Gwyneth” is patronising, elitist and childish. You started off badly and are behaving the same way you accuse GP of behaving.
I 100% agree, Victoria. I couldn’t read her entire comment because I could not give my time to someone who refuses to call another person by THEIR GIVEN NAME. Also, she opened by calling Gwyneth “schizophrenic” – irresponsible, hurtful and further stigmatizing to those who live with mental illness. Her comments should not be applauded, but rather disregarded completely.
Danielle, thank you for one of the most thoughtful, eloquent and reflective comments I’ve read so far about this topic. Much appreciated for your time and honesty in sharing your thoughts publicly.
Thanks for sharing Danielle, this is a great perspective.
I need more of this! Can anyone recommend good sources for additional info around these issues? I have so much learning/unlearning to do.
To Emily: Thank you for keeping your post up. Look at the valuable conversation and education it has generated. Also, maybe invite Danielle here to consult or do a guest post?
oh good idea!!!
Yes. This comment exactly.
Is it okay to have a “sea of ness”?
Is it okay for a Muslim website to have a sea of hijabs, or a BET commercial to have a sea of darker skin tones?
Asking sincerely – wondering if we should make ALL representations of all people include all colors. I am truly wondering what the ideal should be.
I appreciate how you focus on Goop and the brand vs Gwyneth.I think it’s interesting how successful Goop is considering they don’t appear to give back in the community/they only appeal to a successful white audience. I’ll have to check that out. I prefer to shop brands that are helping whether it’s sourcing ingredients locally, paying fair wages,donating profits to a good cause etc. I basically just like to shop brands that simply DO GOOD. I think it’s a millennial thing. If you left the brand conference and felt “gross and guilty” that’s probably not a product i would buy again. I will try and give the podcast a listen though. You make it seem like it’s more relatable/educational than I previously had thought.
Do I think that GP is intentionally harmful? No. That doesn’t mean she isn’t. If what you’re doing is buying some crystals and moon dust in ADDITION to regular visits to your doctor and/or therapist, then fine. In that very specific scenario, I’ll accept your argument of ‘we don’t know it doesn’t work/it can’t hurt.’ But there’s a vulnerable segment of (mostly) women who are taking this kind of advice IN PLACE OF legitimate medical treatment, for whatever reason. And that’s without even touching the things she’s endorsed that are actively harmful (vagina steaming!! Don’t do it!)
Look, the whole ‘self-care’ industry comes from a place of privilege. You’re not debating which face mask you’re going to use each night if you’re working three jobs just to pay rent. You’re not weighing the benefits of different ‘detox’ plans if you’re disabled or suffering from chronic illnesses. And I say this as a privileged person! But maybe what I find off-putting about GP is how un-aware of her privilege she seems to be. And I think that extends to many of her followers.
Thanks, as always, for sharing your well-thought our opinion, Emily! I read through this whole post and now am checking out the podcast- I appreciate you diving into these topics… I am not just here for “design”. To me it all relates!
Yay, Emily! My first comment on your blog was inquiring why so many of the blog/instagram designers are Mormon. It seemed to wad up panties left and right with no reply from the EH team. As an anthro major in college, I was asking with genuine curiosity and no agenda, either way. I applaud your vulnerability in discussing your spiritual journey. I’m middle class, so goop’s product promotion is well beyond my $ scope. That said, I am a nanny to a high net worth family (nanny fam is neurosurgeon/obgyn parents). I’ve taken five yoga teacher trainings, so I’ve drank the hippie koolaid in large doses. I have great convos with the neurosurgeon – ie: pain and anxiety light up the very same areas of the amygdala. Dry needling in western med and acupuncture. Instead of polarizing, I enjoy merging theories between the seemingly disparate spheres of “western” and “alternative” thinking. Take what works for you and move the $:*># on when something doesn’t speak to you. I make a green drink in my vitamin every morning and get vaccinated. Create good where you possess the power to do so and invoke conversation around topics that you would like to… Read more »
Megan, did you ever get an answer (even if not from the EH team) about the Mormon-mom-design-blogger phenomenon? It’s too much to unpack here, but coming from that background, I’d say it has everything to do with options available to curious, talented, ambitious women in a culture that prizes domesticity, appearances, success, engagement, and community while discouraging employment for mothers.
I think NYT ran a piece on it ages ago. From memory it also mentioned that there is a culture of journalling among Mormon women – which lends itself well to doing a regular blog. I also find it a very interesting phenomena.
Brands are here to sell you stuff. That’s all. Be skeptical and participate to the extent you can afford it but please realize that goop or any other brand doesn’t care if you’re healthy, happy or wise.
Here’s a pull quote from my favorite brand article from last year:
If you cut a brand, it doesn’t bleed. You can’t hurt a brand’s feelings. No brand has a photo of itself from sixth-grade picture day, looking awkward with braces and the beginnings of teenage acne. Companies aren’t people, they aren’t your friends, they don’t have your best interest at heart, and they’re certainly not feminists. You may have to work for one to earn money and buy things from them in order to live your life, but the only clear-eyed way to regard a corporation is, at best, as an adversary. No matter what they might say when trying to separate you from your money, that’s certainly how brands see you.
Here’s the link to the article. https://www.racked.com/2018/7/18/17578786/feminist-brand-apparel-capitalism
Robin- I have to disagree here. There are SO many small brands and companies that are owned and successful because of PEOPLE. These people all have photos of themselves they don’t love. They have all kinds of feelings wrapped up in their brand and business and many of them are women. They spend time away from their family and friends to bring you goods and services every single day. That may not be the way Goop runs but it is the way so many companies run. So for the benefit of every person out there running a brand or business remember there are people on the receiving end of your emails, orders and comments. Treat people the way you wish to be treated and do us as business owners a favor and don’t generalize us into a category that doesn’t fit everyone. People are behind everything and if you choose to do business with any company big or small someone who has feelings is behind what you are buying.
barf. gwen never recognizes her privilege and that to me is the problem. Also, have u seen her head of digital is doing ig proposal. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/06/was-viral-proposal-staged/592141/
all the worst parts of the social media and ig. she could do better. i do thing she is a good egg but that doesn’t make it OK that people are paying 1K when that is what a lot of ppl paycheck looks like in a month. Why don’t they do a volunteer summit. Leave LA. Discover this country. What does self-care look like to ordinary women in Iowa or on the border in Texas? I could get behind that.
As a health care provider and doula, I have to unwind and re-teach do to the dumb shit she sells. It is HARMFUL and infuriating!!!!
Eh, for most seemly-woo woo things that aren’t actively harmful, I generally think, “well that’s just not for me”. If putting a crystal in your pocket makes you feel better, go for it (just make sure you’re not claiming it can cure cancer or the like, which would be actively harmful).
The only thing that really bugs me has less to go with GOOP specifically and more with the “wellness” industry in general, which claims to be all about making you feel better but really is just another way to acquire an eating disorder (“feel better” is often equated with “be thinner”). As someone who has survived a nasty ED, I know triggering language centered around food when I see it.
Extremely trivial, but WHY does she talk so slowly during the ad breaks?!?! It drives me insane. Otherwise, I think the podcasts are great 🙂
Personally I would be far more freaked out if Emily announced she was a Scientologist. But I don’t lose any sleep over either Goop or its famous founder.
That said, I have wondered why you bother to mention Goop on the Sunday features and why you went to this overpriced Goopapalooza (Hee!) so thanks for this post. It makes clear what you get out of the podcast & of Goop. It’s not for me but who am I to judge what inspires someone else.
Let’s agree to disagree ladies. Goop is exactly what it is. A program for wealthy elite women. You can hate or you can join the club. I for one grew up poor but am upper middle class and will never truly relate to the articles or the products. I am open minded and even have a few crystals and meditate but to live out this bohemian life of excess is beyond me. I’m supportive of her because she’s a female and a mom. All of our struggles are real but to identify myself as a woman who needs all of those “overpriced” supplements and products is just incomprehensible. I love my life with meaning by just enjoying each moment I can with my family and I treat others with kindness and to self care for myself is to take some time and do what I love. I don’t need a lifestyle coach like these celebrities are aiming to be to tell me how to better myself. I think those who don’t know how should really write in a journal and read it back. Right in there is your own GOOP without the pricetag. Your self worth is not in those… Read more »
to be honest, i was more of a goop fan before reading this post, but it brought up some questions. why would i want to be a follower of a brand that caters to wealthier, white women? not being a member of the demo group myself, why would I want to keep up with a brand that isn’t inclusive of people like me?
also, i wish there was more room for argument in the goop podcast. the only experts they bring in are those that align with their brand, which yes, works from a marketing perspective. As a listener though, it makes the podcast less credible for me.
WHY is the Goop brand specific to wealthy, white women? Particularly the ‘white women’ part? Are they literally saying ‘You need to be white to use my brand?” This is so weird to me!
We are all individuals here! We can use a company (or parts of a company), or not use a company. The power is OURS. The beauty is that no one says I need to buy Ecko or that I need to buy Rolex. I’m stronger than marketing! The power is not Goop’s or any other brand’s.
Emily’s brand shows us multi-thousand dollar sofas and art. That’s out of my demographic! (Maybe Goop sells some products for fair skin? I don’t know; I don’t use Goop.) But it doesn’t mean I have to stay away from the entire business. I’m grateful that it’s my choice to pick and choose from companies to my desire.
I’m with you. Thanks for sharing your perspective, it’s what I was thinking too throughout the whole post and comments. I actually love the Goop podcast but will never buy any of the products. I’m super thankful for all of the free content they produce for me weekly!
Emily I love you and I will never get tired of making fun of you and Jen and Kelly for playing with magic crystals. I LOVE YOU I LOVE I LOVE YOU BYE.
And that is how you show up for a friend.
Given the all caps (because that’s how you do on IG)…I think this must be Orlando S!!! Loving your new show dude!
Yeah, it’s Orlando!! *heart eyes*
What was in the gift bag??
I really like the Goop podcast except for the ads which seem elitist. I am not even sure what demographic the ads are meant for but definitely not mine.
This is a great analysis on Goop. Like anything, you have to be critical of what is (woman-centered) marketing and what may actually be beneficial information. Its not 100% or nothing. I had infertility for 5 years before i sought out a Chinese Medicine Doctor, and got pregnant within 9 months of seeing her so, I totally see and believe in the benefits of treating mind and body. I do wish GP would recognize her privilege more but, I think she has also decided that is not her brand. Thanks for your objective opinion!
Just thinking out loud and curious what others think. Yes, GOOP is incredibly elitist and only caters to a small portion of the population. However, isn’t there a trickle down affect to some extent? Mental health, clean beauty, better cleaning products, better food (less sugar, diary) are now more common for a larger population. Maybe I can’t purchase the exact same cleaning product that GOOP recommends but now I can go to Target and purchase something similar. Similarly with make up. I can’t afford the ones that GOOP sells but I can now try and find alternatives at a different price point.
I do not disagree with GOOP pushing products on woman in order to be a “better person”. Also, disagree with their health advice that is completely lacking in evidence. BUT I do think other ideas they promote (healthy eating, clean products etc.) are now more common in the mass market.
I think this is a really interesting comment. The idea that Goop and other high end wellness brands provide a platform for less expensive options. I’ve never thought about it from that perspective. My initial reaction is I’m very well off but I’m always uncomfortable with the idea of trickle down economics. It doesn’t trickle wide enough or deep enough. Again Goop is just a symbol of this and is not the solely the bearer of all things wrong with wellness and wealth. But I really like your idea around tracing the rising tide of clean living to brands such as Goop. I’m going to think deeply about that.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I realise you meant to be really balanced here and I hope what follows isn’t too pointed. As someone training to work in healthcare in a country with a free, universal health system, this really rubs me the wrong way. Having safe food and cleaning products available to you shouldn’t be a question of following influencers. It shouldn’t even be an individual responsibility on you – who has the time to sift through piles of scientific evidence to decide whether everything they touch is safe or not (definitely wouldn’t recommend just trusting Gwyneth)? Healthy living shouldn’t be some niche lifestyle choice you have to actively seek out and struggle to afford. Good healthcare, including mental health, isn’t something we should cross our fingers and hope will eventually trickle down from the wealthy to the occasional worthy less-wealthy person who has been reading the right blogs. It’s something we should fight to make sure nobody is without. And yes, this includes people who don’t read wellness blogs, people who don’t eat their veg, people who might not seem all that deserving or appealing to us in one way or another. Everyone. Stuff happens to everyone, no… Read more »
I’ve never followed her, mainly because I didn’t like it when she revealed her mean side toward Martha Stewart. This seminar and her brand seem to be about the promotion of white privilege. She calls to mind Marie Antoinette. But hey, if rich women want to buy her snake oil, that’s their business, not mine. I will now go back to not giving her a thought.
Hi Emily! First of all, I just have to say I love your blog and I’m glad you addressed this in a respectful way! You would probably like this profile of Gwyneth Paltrow in The NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/25/magazine/big-business-gwyneth-paltrow-wellness.html I personally like how she is creating a conversation about wellness and causing us to think outside the box.
Also, I noticed you have brought up being on a spiritual journey before. I would love to hear more about it, but at the same time I get that’s a really personal thing! One thing that has been helpful for me is to read the Bible chronologically or just the specific gospels written during the life of Jesus (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).
Wishing you the best in Your spiritual journey!
So well written. I had a hard time sifting through the media muck to understand what the hubbub is about or how I’m “supposed” to feel about Goop or GP. But this was really well balanced. Admire your objectivity! So very refreshing <3
Thanks for this in-depth review, Emily. I agree that we were put on this beautiful earth to help others, but I disagree that “it’s the responsibility of the elite to serve others…” It is the responsibility of EACH of us to help others. This is what is means to be human. ❤️????
I am a sane, college-educated mom who, when they’re not priced exorbitantly, buys organic strawberries at the store. I am a design lover, in the Emily Henderson Design reader demographic! I want to give a shout out and represent the moms who adjust their vaccination schedules for their kids. I don’t do this because it’s popular or easy or because I’m lazy, but similar to parents who weigh whether a drug and its side effects is something they want to give to their child for the particular scenario, I weigh each and every vaccination on the CDC schedule as to the timing and whether the risk is worth the reward. One example is Hep B – something I choose to give to my kids at an older age, instead of at birth. The Hep B vaccines contain 250 micrograms of aluminum per dose. (This isn’t made up!) Similar to not wanting aluminum (or BPA or lead or etc.) to leach into my kids’ bodies, placing this much aluminum in my child’s body is something I’m watchful about. Since Hep B is spread through needles, contaminated blood, and sexual contact, I feel this risk is not strong for my babies. Just… Read more »
Absolutely not. Don’t even want to open that door. As a mom of a 1 and a 5 years old living in a high risk area and someone who is immune to the varicella vaccine (after 3 tries it just doesn’t take!) I will never be friends or respect someone who doesn’t vaccinate for their children or my children.
I get that you are sneakily trying to open this door by seeming reasonable and using word like “questioner” and absolutely not – don’t want this door open at all. Also how in the world is it relevant to this post – just spewing harmful propaganda. Ugh No other topic makes me this angry.
What you are doing here is just spreading fear. If you have a specific reason for believing that the Hep B vaccine is harmful, please say so and let’s have a discussion on the evidence for that, rather than this sort of innuendo and taking things out of context so